I’ve been living in Samoa for one year now – woohoo! – and I have about 14 months left. This is my list of experiences, accomplishments, and achievements that have proven valuable and/or useful in Samoa, but they probably won’t make it onto my resume.
- I was a bad jaywalker when I left the States, but I am now exponentially worse. In my village, I prefer to walk directly in the middle of the road instead of picking a side. My sister said I would be run over by a car before I leave Samoa because my jaywalking is so bad
- My pace of life has slowed down to the point where if I have 3 things to accomplish in a day, it’s a super busy day
- I’ve managed to sleep on the bus on a few occasions. This gives me hope that maybe someday I’ll be able to sleep on an airplane (I’ve got a long flight home whenever I make it back), but I know myself well enough to know that it probably won’t happen
- I will humbly appoint myself Pro of Living Without Water. Roughly half my time in PC I’ve had water, the other half, it comes and goes. At first, I felt like I was suffering cruel punishment every time the water came and disappeared on a whim, but now it’s become more of a fact of life. Sometimes the water is there, but then it will go away eventually.
- I can take a 1-bowl bucket shower. For those who don’t know, you take a bucket shower with a larger bucket holding a significant amount of water, and a smaller bowl to dump water over yourself. I accomplish a 1-bowl bucket shower by not washing my hair (that requires a real shower) and using a scrubby cloth and bar of soap. For added luxury, I now add boiled water to make it a hot bucket shower.
- I have yet to make it through an entire bottle of shampoo or conditioner. Granted, I have only been washing my hair twice a week for the past six months, and I have three separate bottles going, but I still think that’s impressive. After six months here, the ginormous bottles of shampoo and conditioner I brought with me were still half full, and I was getting sick of them. So I bought new shampoo, and then my water went away. I also have a different shampoo at the office so I can take a hot shower and get nice and clean occasionally.
- Just last week, I finally finished the 250ml bottle of Nivea lotion I bought when I arrived here. Kinda the same situation as above, but I just don’t need lotion as much when it is so humid.
- I once opened a can with a knife. Well, it’s more like I got it halfway open. Can openers tend to rust really fast here, so most people just use knives. I was staying with a friend, and she didn’t have a can opener, so after about 20 minutes of back-breaking effort, I managed to get about 2/3 of the lid open with a knife. This is kinda the technique I’ve observed: jam the knife down into the can, push it forward, and repeat. Easier said than done.
- Spreading butter on crackers with a spoon. Actually, pretty much everything gets spread on everything else using a spoon. This actually seems to work quite well and is not so difficult to learn as opening a can with a knife. However, I still don’t get the privilege of buttering crackers at meetings. I’m not a pro yet, just a novice.
Open to Suggestions
- A lot of the things I told my campers when I was a counselor now apply to me. Particularly, water cures everything (but it hurts here, and this is happening, and, and…) Suck it up and eventually you’ll get over it. If you’re still sick later, maybe we’ll send you to a doctor. Also, fake it til you make it – I was never really fond of this one in the first place, but it’s much harder here.
- I’ve been stung by a centipede. I think. I’m about 90% sure on this one. I was staying with friends who have seen centipedes in their fale before, and I woke up in the middle of the night to a sharp pain in my arm. I didn’t see or here anything creeping around, but it hurt like crazy. It felt like I was getting a shot for 30 minutes (OK, I probably wasn’t awake for 30 minutes, I didn’t check my watch, but it felt that long) – just that continual, deep, stabbing, throbbing pain. For a while, all I could do was suck in huge gasps of air, hold my breath, and clench my teeth. Eventually I went back to sleep. It was still sore the next day, but two days after it was fine.
- The mere sight of a cockroach no longer makes me gag.
- I can kill most any bug I find in my room with bug spray and sweep it out the door. However, still afraid of wasps. I don’t try to kill those, just hope they fly away instead.
- I’m pretty sure I’ve reached my maximum capacity of tanness – or maybe I’m just really good with sunscreen. Either way, I haven’t really changed color in about 3 months.
- Things I miss most about the states: the change of the seasons, the food (particularly Mexican and buffalo wings), multi-story buildings, carpet, cushy chairs and couches
- I’ve been writing down all the dreams I can remember since about February or March. I’ve been to King Soopers in my dreams maybe 5 of 6 times.
- There are a lot of things that make noise at night in Samoa, and I always think there is a rat in my room. I do have reason to be suspicious because I did find a rat in my room once. But I’ve learned that cockroaches are incredibly loud. They mostly crawl around my room when they’re near death, so I have to sweep them out the next day. My first few months here, I would always turn on my headlamp to investigate the source of the sound, only to find it was a cockroach. Then one night maybe a month ago I was absolutely convinced the scraping sound was louder than normal. So I turned on my headlamp again, but I couldn’t spot anything. When I got out of bed in the morning, there was a crab hiding behind one of my shoes.
References available on request, although it could take some time.